Embodiement Through The Alexander Technique
My first introduction to conscious embodiment came through the Alexander Technique. Ellen, a teaching artist that worked for the same organization I did, told me about her Alexander Technique practice and encouraged me to try it out.
As I was an artist, dancer and performer, she understood the importance of stage presence through conscious embodiment and how it could support me, as well as the curve in my spine that I had through scoliosis. Not being introduced clearly to the concept of embodiment in this way, she was about to open my eyes to it.
During the first of our two sessions, she introduced me to an idea: that I was not just living in the front of my body. There was the back of my body too.
Working with many famous actors and performers in N.Y.C., she talked about how she’d teach them to perform not just to the front of the room through the front of their body’s, but to the whole room. “It’s common for actors to project solely out of the front of their body’s because that’s usually where the audience is. However, what about performing as if the audience is all the way around you?” she’d inquire. Awestruck, I’d never thought of that concept before, but she was right.
For most of my adult life, I was probably living in the front of my body, not fully embodied in myself, most of the time, and what about the back or the sides of my body? Were they fully alive and embodied too? This was an exciting introduction to learning to be fully in my body or what we call being “embodied” in ourselves.
As a person who would typically “flee” in a traumatic situation, (literally leave my body energetically or want to run away from a situation) learning the tools to be fully in my body and stay centered and present in myself, even when things felt uncomfortable or got “tough,” was a huge tool to calming anxiety, panic, and a feeling of ungroundedness that had plagued me for years.
Another technique she taught me was to take a breath in. Then, on the exhale, imagine that I was exhaling all the way into the middle or center of my physical body. Bringing the exhale into myself allowed me to literally feel what it was like to come INTO my body, instead of staying on the front surface of my body, a sensation I wasn’t that familiar with on a conscious level.
As I experimented with these two concepts of embodiment, consciously bringing my attention to the back side of my body and bringing my exhale into my body, as I moved through my daily life, I began to notice when I wasn’t embodied and how this contributed to my feeling so anxious and scared sometimes.
And, over a long time and many years of constant practice, along with incorporating old and new techniques I’d learned from different modalities like yoga, doing EMDR trauma therapy and working with a spiritual coach, I’ve begun to feel more and more embodied in my life altogether, which helps me feel more safe, calm, centered and grounded on a day to day basis. Do I still feel anxious, scared or uncomfortable and ungrounded at times? Yes. And, wIth these tools, I am more likely to stay in my body, regardless of the discomfort they may create, and deal with these feelings consciously, a little at a time, instead of fleeing to escape them. Tthe level of empowerment this gives me is an incredible feeling!
Although I have not done a lot of Alexander Technique, the awareness it brought to my sense of embodiment empowered and changed me and my life for the better as an artist and a human being!
With Love and Aloha Nui Loa,
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